Brotherly Birthday Love.

Some of the best feedback I’ve ever received on my blog was from my brother Matt. It came three days before my 23rd birthday (I’m now 26) in the form of a Facebook message:

“Hey what happened to your blog? It really changed. You’re getting way too hipster.”

Oh wait. It gets better.

“Well if you want my opinion, it wasn’t bad before … I don’t know, just my thoughts. All your doing is putting up songs and little quotes. Who can’t do that?”

Songs and little quotes, eh? I remember giggling (in my hipster ways) and promised myself I would get back to the roots of allanabytes. I first began my blog as an outlet to share stories. I figured I’ve had some strange life experiences (remember when I walked behind Michael Buble?) and I figured others may get a kick out of those life experiences. I relish in the ability to bring moments to life online, to interact with a broader community and ignite my passion of storytelling. I am so in love with this blog and what bytes has become and what it has the potential to be in the future. And so now, on the cusp of a new year, I’m making myself a little promise about bytes. Get back to the roots. Remember why you originally started this blog & kick some serious bloggy butt!

So, while my last post was on my birthday, today is another special birthday – the advice-giver himself, Matthew Thomas Mortell.


22 years ago, I got myself a pretty awesome brother. It may have taken many years of abusive games of Mario Kart & kicking + fighting in the back seat of cars for me to realize it, but he’s truly a gem. He is one of the sweetest and most caring guys I know, always looking out for others, especially his family and close friends. His laugh and smile are infectious and I’ll be damned if those bright blue eyes didn’t always get him out of trouble. That’s the problem with having too-cute siblings as a kid – you may be all-the-time awkward, but when you’ve got a blue-eyed baby brother who was nicknamed “googly eyes”, life ain’t so bad.


Halloween, circa 90s. Those eyes even pierce through the computer screen.


This was, I’m not even kidding, Matt’s “uniform” for probably 2-3, maybe even 5 years straight. That kid never, ever took off his red basketball tee, as we’d lovingly call it – and those shoes, backwards cap and Adidas shorts never left his side either. I’m pretty sure we found that red t-shirt recently and it was covered with holes. The kind of holes that can only come from wearing a shirt over and over and over again. Honestly, when I think of my childhood and think of Matt, that’s the picture I’ll always have in mind. Nowadays, that ridiculous red basketball tee haunts my dreams.


20-something years later, the red tee is gone (phew) but the smile and spirit still remain. It’s always weird when a sibling turns a year older because then you realize that you’re actually getting older  – that whole turning 26 thing, yeah – wasn’t a dream. It’s all real and I’m sure someday soon I’ll blink and be 30.

I wish I could tell you all that Matt is a food lover like his sister. Just as I recall him in that red tee, I still recall him coming home from school / work / dates / whatever and going into the kitchen, microwaving one single bag of Orville popcorn and dousing it with Srirarcha. Then, he’d pour his creation into his favorite bright yellow plastic oversize bowl and go – to – town. While the spicy popcorn days are far from over, I’m looking forward to the day he admits he actually really enjoys my homemade tomato sauce or will try foie gras just because.

So, since today IS Matt’s birthday (you know how I feel about BIRTHDAYS) I figured it’d be best to share a cake recipe with you all in honor of the big 2-2.


I was presented this beautiful confectionary concoction at my birthday this year and oh-my-gosh was it a sight for sore eyes! I found the recipe online through work one day (thank god for social media) and immediately e-mailed it to my mom, begging her to make the cake like meow. And, because my mom is the greatest and a pheNOMenal baker, she obliged. The sprinkles, the ribbon, the candles – when I first laid eyes on the thing, it looked more like a present for display than a cake for eating. So, when my birthday weekend arrived, friends and family gathered in our kitchen, we lit the candles and with my biggest huff, came the biggest OOPS.

The sprinkles flew every-where. Think about it (we clearly didn’t)- those tiny non-pareils aren’t glued to the frosting; you blow the candles, you blow the sprinkles.

cake spill

(If you notice above right – someone’s hand cleaning up just a small handful of sprinkles).

Those teeny tiny sprinkles whooshed off the cake so fast, I was in the midst of blowing the candles when I heard a collective, “OH MY GOD” from around the table. I looked up and realized we had made a big mess. Sprinkles were everywhere – on the table, on the ground, chairs, on our clothes, in our hair & drinks, etc. So please, if you are going to attempt this insanely delicious and beautiful cake – be careful and be gentle. Those sprinkles are more delicate than they appear.

Recipe found here : adapted from Betty Crocker’s Sprinkle Cake. 

And finally, a last birthday wish for the big guy. May your early 20s be as cool + smooth as Seth Cohen’s. I know you love him (we all do) because no other 22-year-old owns every single season of The O.C. on DVD. (But don’t worry – I think that’s the coolest thing about you).


xx, bytes.

3 thoughts on “Brotherly Birthday Love.

  1. 1. You blogged!! Yay!! I’ve missed that sassy story teller voice of yours.
    2. The jasmine costume. O. M. G
    3. Props for using meow in a sentence. I almost died reading it.
    4. Don’t deny it, you’re a hipster.
    5. That’s all. K bye.

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